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Kia Kokalitcheva May 16, 2017
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The most important technology for self-driving cars

Ben Margot / AP

The battle for self-driving cars is often framed as a fight between Silicon Valley and Detroit, or Google and Uber, but a more fundamental question is what type of technology will win the day.

Alphabet's Waymo, Uber, and automakers like Ford and General Motors are investing heavily in technology known as LiDAR (or Light Detection and Ranging) sensors. But some — including startup Comma.ai and Tesla— don't think LiDAR is necessary at all.

Why it matters: Figuring out self-driving car sensors is one the hottest treasure hunts in Silicon Valley right now. Whoever perfects the software-sensor combination will have an enormous advantage in the future of transportation. The technology is also at the heart of an on-going lawsuit between Uber and Waymo— the outcome of which could be a make-or-break moment for Uber.